From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Johnson, Lillian E. Russell Bakeman

(born: 1872) 

Lillian E. Russell was born in Kentucky and moved to Detroit, Michigan. She was the daughter of Wilbur L. Gordon Russell (mother) and William H. Russell [sources: Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925; and Michigan Death Records Index]. After attending high school and business college in Detroit, she became a bookkeeper and stenographer. She was married to George C. Bakeman around 1895, and they were divorced by 1910, and Lillian and her daughter were living with her mother, Wilbur L. Russell, according to the U.S. Federal Census. Her name was Lillian E. Johnson by 1920 and she was once again living with her mother; Lillian had remarried and was a widow, she was employed as a stenographer at a law office. She was considered a member of the middle class within the African American community in Detroit, and was selected as a board member of the Detroit Urban League; at the time she was employed as a bookkeeper for a physician.

Lillian Johnson was one of the early African American members of the Detroit Urban League's integrated board at a time when the organization worked hand-in-hand with its financier, the Employer's Association, to supply Detroit industries with African American laborers from the South. The Detroit Urban League was established in 1910. Lillian E. Johnson was living with her brother in 1940, his name was Samuel H. Russell, and the family of four lived on Alger Street in Detroit [U.S. Federal Census]. Lillian Johnson was employed as a bookkeeper with a newspaper.

Bakeman's brief biography is included in the Michigan Manual of Freemen's Progress, compiled by F. H. Warren [available full text online in .pdf format on the Western Michigan University website]. For more about the Detroit Urban League Board when Bakeman was a member, see Internal Combustion: the races in Detroit, 1915-1926, by D. A. Levine.

Outside Kentucky Place Name


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Michigan manual of freedmen's progress
NKAA Source: Internal combustion : the races in Detroit, 1915-1926

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Johnson, Lillian E. Russell Bakeman,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed September 25, 2020,

Last modified: 2018-12-26 16:16:40